Apple CEO Steve Jobs tells graduates not to waste time in Stanford keynote speech

“Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave a somber and intensely personal commencement speech at Stanford on Sunday,” Tanya Schevitz reports for The San Francisco Chronicle.

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life,” he said. “It’s life’s change agent, it clears out the old to make way for the new. “Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away,” he warned the 5,000 graduating students. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

“The speech, in which Jobs also talked about falsely learning he had three to six months to live before his pancreatic cancer killed him, was at first too morbid even for electrical engineering graduate Vishal Dhandhia, who wore a huge skull mask topped with a mortarboard during the ceremony,” Schevitz reports. “‘At Stanford, we are used to humor,’ said Dhandhia, 21. ‘So to listen to a dry speech like that wasn’t so fun. But the messages were good.'”

Full article here.


  1. It says in the article that Pixar made the “top-grossing ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Madagascar’ movies.”

    Uhmm. Wasn’t Madagascar Dreamworks? I hate it when the press spouts off stuff without looking it up.

  2. Contrary to the article, “Madagascar” was released by Pixar’s rival, Dreamworks.

    MDN Magic Word: anything – as in “Can’t they fact check anything???”

  3. OK, this is going to sound a little wacky to those not involved in leading edge biosciences, but don’t assume that the current human lifespan will stay unchanged over the next 30-40 years. Over the course of that span, it is quite possible or even likely that we will see major breakthroughs that extend human life substantially. They are likely to make the incremental lifespan increases of the last 30-40 years look like nothing.
    SJ’s observations are still excellent, though, since there will still be SOME limits.

  4. “And that was when he founded Pixar Studios, which created the first-ever computer animated feature film, “Toy Story,” in 1995, and more recently released the top-grossing “Finding Nemo” and “Madagascar” movies.”

    Uhm Madagascar – someone missed that in editing.

  5. It must be great for Steve to have a company that produces such top-notch stuff (Pixar) that people automatically assume that “if it’s good, it had to come from Pixar”

  6. Extending lifespan is another one of those “we could, but should we” things. If there’s no improvement in quality of life, why live another twenty years? We’ve made great strides in keeping people alive, but we haven’t figured out how to keep them living.

  7. Bio,

    Interested to hear what area of biosciences you are in. While technology is truly making remarkable inroads into the causes of death, you must admit that it’s a case of “if one thing does not kill us, another will”. As an example, my wife is a cancer researcher. Her previous company came out with a drug that has remarkable effects on lung cancer. Let’s say that her company saves all the lung cancer patients from dying of lung cancer. There are still many other cancers out there. Contrary to popular belief, every cancer is different and there will be no one cure-all for cancer. So, we’d have to have a cure for every cancer to dramatically increase life by getting rid of that obstacle.

    Now, look at all of the other life issues such as heart disease, dementia, neurological diseases, etc. Even if you can help people to live to be 150 years old, the quality of life may not be there. I don’t want to be 150 and have no organs, not be able to walk, have no memory, etc. Quality of life is more important than quantity of life.

    You also have to take into account the fact that smokers and drinkers will continue to exist and to damage their bodies. As you know, smoking raises the chance of every cancer, as well as heart disease and organ degeneration. Drinking has nearly as many issues. These vices will continue to exist. Then you have to take into account the general laziness of the human population. This means minimal exercise, which also contributes to bodily degeneration.

    I’m not disagreeing with you that life spans will be extended over the course of the next century and beyond. I just don’t believe that, during my lifetime, we’ll see the average human lifespan increased to 100 years or anything.

    My 2 cents. What was the story about again?…

  8. Dear Bio Sciencist,
    we can read in the Psalm (VIII century b.C.): “septuaginta anni est vita hominis super terram, aut in valentibus octoginta, et maior pars eorum labor et dolor” (Man lives seventy years, perhaps eighty…). Can you please repeat how things will be in 2035 or 2045?

  9. Jimbo and Bio,

    we should all move this to another forum, but, Bio is probably right in that we will find ways to make the body last longer. Jimbo is definetely right, I see people daily whose bodies keep ticking who don’t know what day it is.

    but our lifestyles are the biggest problem. there is no longer a disease called “adult onset diabetes” becuase so many children have it. we are obese. we eat poorly, we don’t exercise. when we need to lose weight we look to atkins and south beach because it’s fast and quick, when calorie restriction and exercise is what is needed.

    our body systems were designed for a hard life. and we live in an easy world. food is plentiful.

    my two cents.

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